Perfect food: perspectives on consumer perceptions of fresh produce quality
Over the past century, the global food system has largely shifted from a localized, decentralized agricultural model to more centralized, industrial food production system. Corresponding with this shift was a change in consumer preferences, an expectation for “perfect” fruits and vegetables that has contributed to a significant problem with wasted food. An alternative food system, aimed at providing locally-grown, sustainable produce has countered this model and has sought to reconnect consumers and producers. At the same time, this alternative model still exists within a larger agricultural system dominated by industrial production and standardization. This paper examines how the changes in the ways consumers look at fresh produce quality has affected the practices of retailers and drives food waste at the supply chain using in-depth interviews conducted in a variety of settings in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA. An analysis of these interview findings reveals that even in alternative food buying locations, consumers have a general expectation of perfection but that as consumers build relationships with the people who grow their food, these perceptions, and our food waste practices, might be changed.
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